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The Cycle of Life

By Sister Faiza Qayoom

Throughout my years at the university, I have spent many days walking along the riverside; through the windy autumns, the bitter winters, the rainy summers, and blooming springs. Throughout these years, I have seen a pattern in nature, in this repetition: the leaves fall out of trees in one season and come back again in the next as if they were always there, snow covers half of the river and in the summer it warms up again. But what about me, why am I growing old? What’s my destination? Am I coming back like those leaves in the spring? Can I be young again once wrinkles have covered my face? Will I be able to get a second chance at this life? 

   

Let’s unravel these questions in light of the Quran. In Surah al-Ankabut, we are told,

Everyone shall have a taste of death. In the end, you shall be brought back to Us” (Quran 29:57).

Yes, death is the ultimate truth of life. We all have a fixed time in this Dunya, some longer than others, some shorter. Following up on the example above, the cycle of nature might seem to repeat but even the trees have a fixed time. If we look at a much bigger event on this planet, the whole universe has a fixed time, and after that, it’s going to end. Allah SWT says in Surah Ar-Rum, ayah 19:

He brings forth the living out of the dead, and brings the dead out of the living, and revives the earth after its death. It is in this way (that He revives the dead earth) that you will be brought forth from the dead.” (Quran 30:19)

The death and rebirth of plants is a sign from Allah SWT of the hereafter. While walking along the river, it becomes hard to ignore that everything has a purpose, from a tiny dust particle to the massive river. I can’t help but think, what about me? My purpose in this Dunya is clearly highlighted in Ayah 2 of Surah Al-Mulk,

[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving”. (Quran 67:2)

This life is a test for us and like nature, we will die and be brought back to life and the test will be no more, only judgment. We only get one shot at this life and the test of this life. Once we are returned back to Allah SWT, we cannot make any additions to our books of deeds. We will get what we deserve, and if we have done good deeds according to the Quran and Sunnah, with Allah (swt)’s mercy we will be rewarded with Jannah if He (swt) wills. 

All of the answers to these questions might appear as common knowledge to most Muslims. However, if we truly believe in the test of this world and the hereafter, then why do our intentions and actions not reflect these beliefs? Why do we become overly worried about this Dunya and forget about the Akhirah? Are we fully aware of the consequences of our negligence from our true purpose? Allah SWT says in the Quran,

…The life of this world is merely the enjoyment of delusion,” (Quran 3:185).

Allah SWT calls this Duniya “the enjoyment of delusion”, as we battle inner desires, whisperings of Shaytaan, and constant societal pressures that tempt us to behave otherwise and ultimately distract us through dwelling in deluded enjoyment. However, we have options to choose from. Are we going to give in to our desires and temptations or are we going to fight those temptations and desires for the sake of Allah SWT? Upon reflection of the Ayat (Quran 3:185), we learn that many of us fall into the constant cycle of making this world a permanent home with its many enjoyments which we also perceive to be eternal. However, it’s not permanent and we tend to forget about the afterlife and give in to our desires. This world is only a “delusion of enjoyment” as the ultimate enjoyment is indeed only in Paradise.

In conclusion, like everything else in this world, we are also here for a limited time. Now, our time here is precious as this life is a test from Allah SWT and once our time is up, our test will be over as well. During this limited time, we must not forget our true purpose (to be successful in the ultimate test of this Dunya) and our final destination (which is to Allah SWT). Indeed

He gives life and causes death, and to Him, you shall be brought back” (Quran 10:56).

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